Production Team: Hair by: Evana Reyna & Amber Garcia, Riptide Salon • Makeup by: Ashle Riff Aligno, Tease Salon • Wardrobe Styled by: Alexa Gignac, Julian Gold • Location: Elizabeth’s at the Art Museum
Ask an incredibly busy woman what her hobby is—and when her answer is, “My life is my hobby,” stop, listen, and ask more questions. Because therein lies the key to a happy life.
Dr. Nelly Garcia-Blow, a primary care geriatric physician with the CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, enters gracefully through the doors of Elizabeth’s at the Art Museum the day of this photoshoot. Having spent an exorbitant amount of the last nearly two years of this pandemic clothed in scrubs and her white coat, Dr. Garcia-Blow was in for a day of much-deserved pampering.
She is reserved in demeanor, but her presence illuminates the room she enters. There is a calmness that both precedes and follows her; something akin to a universal vibration that draws you in to bask in her positive, beaming luminescence. Dr. Garcia-Blow is soft-spoken, yet deliberate; demure yet purposeful when she speaks.
Being in the medical field at such a crucial time in the state of the pandemic doesn’t leave much opportunity for time away from the hospital. And yet, Dr. Garcia-Blow is the kind of woman who is surprisingly present in the moment—especially during a time when feigning attention would be understandably excused.
It is her sense of service that speaks volumes. Which makes sense, considering her profession is centered around caring for others. “I feel that my chosen calling has always been to act as an advocate for everyone I come in contact with,” she said. Dr. Garcia-Blow always knew she wanted to be a doctor, and her tenacious spirit carried her to that end goal. She now spends her days caring for some of our community’s most vulnerable populations, helping them through the most challenging times in their lives. She’s spent the majority of her adult life studying and spending countless hours cultivating her knowledge and skills into an art form.
Much of her daily work is about volunteering, which Dr. Garcia-Blow finds to be integral to one’s daily routine. This way of living, level of self-sacrifice, and willingness to serve the community no matter the cost is what makes Dr. Garcia-Blow an undeniable medical hero in the Coastal Bend.
In Her Own Words
Which woman in your life has inspired you the most?
I grew up in a strong matriarchal family that truly honored the tradition mentioned in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the father was the head, but the woman was the neck and could move the head in any direction. My maternal grandmother set a great example. Through pure grit and determination, she knew she wanted a better life for her children. In a stepwise approach and with a lot of hard work, my grandmother was able to immigrate to the United States from Mexico. This was done as a true family commitment, with the older ones moving first and supporting the younger ones as the years passed. This type of love and commitment to family was a lesson we all learned at a young age. My family was tough, opinionated, hard-working, and a constant presence. I am so thankful to have strong women in my life to guide me, and more importantly be living examples of how love, resilience, and hard work overcome all challenges.
What do you want girls and women to know about navigating the medical industry (in its current state or in general)?
Medicine is a calling. No matter your gender, I see my colleagues struggle with the work/life balance. As a woman, we definitely feel an added pressure to make sure we are there for our families. During this pandemic, that has been magnified. The secret for me has always been finding great mentors. For as long as I can remember, I know because of divine intervention, I have always found great mentors. From teachers, principals, coaches—they have truly been the best blessing in my life. When things get challenging, you need that voice in your head to help you over the hump. The best mentors, I believe, recognize that we don’t all look the same, speak the same, come from the same background, but instead they are able to see your talent and help you cultivate that skill to make you the best version of yourself.
What keeps you up at night?
Of course, with the pandemic having rocked our world since January of 2020, this has consumed our lives for the last year and a half as a family, as it has for so many others. The one thing that keeps me up at night more than any other is the mistrust we feel in our community and our society. During this pandemic, I think due in large part to a significant political divide in this country, we have struggled as a profession to communicate what is in the best interest of our community and our patients. This has taken a significant toll on our front-line staff, and I worry about the future of healthcare and more importantly the future and health of our health care teams. Every day we see a smaller workforce and one that is that much more defeated—not by the work, which is most certainly heart-wrenching, but by the mistrust in our own communities. My prayer would be that everyone is a bit more empathetic to our health care heroes that are doing their best to navigate this incredibly difficult situation.